The Florida State University Football team has ended its worst season since the 1976. What’s more, it’s 36-year bowl streak is over. Lynn Hatter looks back on a season marked by big changes, and what happens when a school accustomed to winning, doesn’t.
The FSU Seminoles’ 5-7 season is being capped by a loss to it’s in-state rival, the University of Florida. UF beat FSU for the first time in six years, led by Wakulla High School graduate Feleipe Franks’ three touchdown passes.
"It was a disappointing game, a disappointing season," Taggart said. "I think everyone in the locker room is hurting and again, it’s unacceptable here at Florida State. We have a program that prides itself on winning and we didn’t get it done. I’m disappointed in the way we performed today and throughout the year. We didn’t get it done.”
That’s FSU head coach Willie Taggart, speaking to reporters after the game. Nearly a year ago, Taggart was named head coach—the first black head coach in the school’s history. The Manatee county native replaced Jimbo Fisher, who left for Texas A&M.
Fisher won the highest scoring game in NCAA history this past weekend, bringing his Aggies to an 8-4 season.
Taggart tried to downplay expectations when he accepted the position at FSU. He noted early on it would be a season of rebuilding, both the team, and its morale. During the first game, Taggart received a warm welcome but it quickly faded after a loss to Virginia Tech.
Those losses kept coming. Criticism of Taggart’s coaching began to seep in. When FSU won games, it won them solidly. But most of the losses weren’t even close. The blowout loss to UF, 41-14, was crushing.
“You look at some of the games we lost and the way we lost—we were undisciplined," Taggart said. "We weren’t tough enough to walk away when someone pushes us up, shoves us. And that’s what we’ve got to learn to do.”
The FSU fan-base, unaccustomed to losing, didn’t take it well. But one social media comment in particular has drawn an investigation by the state attorney’s office. The now-deleted facebook post depicted Taggart with a noose around his neck—an insinuation rooted in racism. The poster was instantly flamed for it, but he doubled down, defending the message. The Tallahassee Democrat reports he’s been fired from his job.
Taggart meanwhile, says the FSU Football situation isn’t as bleak as it looks, and following the game, he told reporters "our program has never been in this situation before. No one here really has. We’ve got pieces in place, but we all see our areas of where we need help and we have to fix those things.”
Taggart’s next step: putting the 2018 football season behind and hitting the recruiting trail in an attempt to turn things around next season.